Tank Girl (1995)

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Released 16-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 99:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:11) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rachel Talalay
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Lori Petty
Ice-T
Naomi Watts
Don Harvey
Jeff Kober
Reg E. Cathey
Scott Coffey
Malcolm McDowell
Stacy Linn Ramsower
Ann Cusack
Brian Wimmer
Iggy Pop
Dawn Robinson
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Björk
Robin Goodridge
Gavin McGregor Rossdale


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Amongst the many unusual comics published in the '80s was one that was the creation of Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett: Tank Girl. It was first published in 1988 by Deadline magazine. The '70s and '80s saw many great comics being published and many of them became fodder for the Hollywood machine, some with more success than others.

    The original comic version of Tank Girl was far more off the wall, violent, unusual and at times outright crazy than Hollywood would ever be capable of turning into a movie. There is always a problem when someone attempts to move a concept from a fringe group to the mainstream. Almost invariably they end up pleasing no-one.

    If they had made Tank Girl like the comic then it would probably have received an X rating at least, but at least it may have been popular with its existing sub-culture fanbase if done properly. But this would not have been a big enough audience for Hollywood, so they tried to drag Tank Girl into the mainstream. Anyone who knew the original Tank Girl just knew that the film adaptation was never going to fly. By moving far enough from the original concept to perhaps gain mainstream acceptance, they lost the bite of the original. However, they still did not gain a mainstream following because Tank Girl still remained a very strange character in most people's eyes.

    Thus the studio ended up with a flop at the box office, as no one knew quite what to make of the result. The director, Rachel Talalay, appears to have tried to make the film more like the cartoon, but a whole lot of material that appears to have scared the willies out of the suits in the studio ended up on the cutting room floor, such as the scene where Tank Girl is in bed with Booga. This material is not present on the disc, unfortunately. Reportedly a chap in the states collected some of this material and was selling a VHS tape of it (this footage did not include the aforementioned scene).

    Anyway, the end result did find a small cult following once it was released to VHS, and apparently it was most successful in Australia! If you have not seen this film then be warned: it is the type of movie that no one is going to be lukewarm about. You will either love it or hate it. I am in the 'love it' category and think that even though it does fall short of the original, it is a great no-brainer for a Saturday night with the volume turned way, way up!

    The storyline is quite different from the comic, where Tank Girl is a Tank Driver in the Australian Army on a special mission and later on the run. In the movie she is a rebel in a post-apocalyptic world where the single most important thing is water. This precious commodity is controlled by a company called Water and Power, which is run by the evil Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell). Tank Girl and her friends are living in the desert and stealing water from W&P. This is not a smart move, as W&P have almost all of the water and definitely all the power and guns. This leads to an attack on their home by W&P commandos. Tank Girl ends up as a prisoner of W&P and starts her battle with Kesslee, who wishes to break her spirit.

    Tank Girl hooks up with another young woman whilst a prisoner who becomes Jet Girl (Naomi Watts), and they both escape. Without giving too much away, they end up needing to break back into W&P, and to do this they are going to need help. The only assistance around is an underground group of mutant kangaroos called the Slashers.

    Throughout this story, a lot of fun is had. Tank Girl gets her tank, which she modifies to her own personal liking, including adding a lounge on top as well as a barbeque. Jet Girl does likewise with her jet plane. Both vehicles were liberated from W&P during their respective escapes.

    Tank Girl herself is a truly unique character -- punk, attractive (in a shaved head sort of way) with a serious attitude and a very skewed sense of humour. Lori Petty does a great job with what is left of the original character after sanitation by the studios. Lori Petty and Malcolm McDowell both play their characters in a way that works very well for the film, and their conflicts are some of the highlights. I am really having trouble putting the tone of the film into words. Both the source comic book and the movie are so visual that it is hard to give the correct impression in words.

    The music gives a hint though, with groups such as Stomp, Björk, Devo, Magnificent B******s, Ice-T and many others supplying the soundtrack, but with an interlude in the middle where we are treated to a full production number set to Cole Porter's 'Lets Do It (Lets Fall in Love)' from 1928.

    The movie also uses drawings similar to the original comics for interludes, again set to the above music. This adds even more to the zany feel that the whole film has. Overall, Tank Girl is based on a very good but bizarre comic book. Its humour is zany and often sexual, and its characters are very strange indeed.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Other than a few problems with the source material, this is a nice transfer, presented at its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is nice and sharp and shadow detail is good. There is a tiny amount of low level noise from the minor grain present.

    Colours are well saturated and clear of any artefacts.

    There are no MPEG artefacts, nor any problems with the film to video transfer. There are quite a few film artefacts. Grain is only a minor problem but there is some dirt on the master, as well as quite a few marks, hairs, and so on. These are most easily seen against a neutral background such as the sky at around 52:00.

    There are both English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on this disc, along with a selection of other language subtitles, which occasionally have some difficulty keeping up with the dialogue. They are, however, easy to read.

    This is an RSDL disc with the single worst layer change I have ever witnessed. It occurs at 51:11, right at the end of a spoken word, thereby cutting it off.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on this disc: English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.

    The music is fantastic and works very well with the overall zany impression of the movie. A girl on top of a tank in an armchair with a brain barbequeing just has to have this sort of musical accompaniment.

    There is a lot of surround activity, both ambient and musical in nature, though there are no split surround effects.

    The subwoofer bounces along with both the music and explosions, although it is mostly centred around the 40-50Hz mark, with the occasional excursion somewhere around 35Hz. It rocks but you needn't worry about your foundations.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The static menu is presented at 1.78:1 and there is no audio. It has a picture of Tank Girl from the movie on the right and her cartoon persona on the left.

Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

    This is unfortunately presented at 1.33:1 (the US disc has a 2.35:1 trailer) and is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This is actually a good trailer for Tank Girl, all things considered, since it does not try to sell the film as something it is not.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 disc is a single layered disc while ours is RSDL, although they have two fewer Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks to accommodate. While the video quality is very similar, I personally hate NTSC 3:2 pull-down judder on pans. The soundtrack on the R4 disc sounds better to my ears, with more punch overall and a slightly better surround presence.

    The only technical difference is that their theatrical trailer is in 2.35:1 while ours is in 1.33:1. Despite this I am giving the nod to R4 for the better soundtrack.

Summary

    As long as you take this film for what it is you will have a great time watching it. However, if you are looking for anything deep, then choose another title. Despite the limitations of the storyline I really enjoy the character of Tank Girl. Furthermore, her nemesis is a a classic bad guy played with just the right amount of flair.

    The video is good.

    The audio is good.

    A bit slim on the extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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